Latest News:

Nov

6

2014

 

Kevin_Smokler_01

My buddy Ninna Gasensler-Debs who works at the awesome KALW 91.7 Local Public Radio San Francisco (exhale) asked me to appear on The Book Report, which asks local authors about a book that's meaningful to them. I spoke about James Baldwin's essay collection The Fire Next Time which I read last year in residency at Ragdale to get pumped (and better) at essay writing. 

They also rendered me as a pen and ink drawing, which was a bucket list item I didn't know I had. 

Only 4 minutes long and Ninna did a bang up job with audio production. How often can one speak while scored to with the immortal Nina Simone? 

Listen!



Sep

5

2014

Ferriswheel

  • The Ferris Wheel was named after its creator George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. an engineer from Illinois who began his carrer building bridges in Pittsburgh. 
  • The Chicago Wheel had 36 cars, took 20 minutes to make two revolutions and carried 60 riders at a time. An immediate success, 38,00 fair goers rode it each day. 
  • George Ferris had seen a version of the wheel a year before in Atlantic City. When his own design was a success, the inventor of the Atlantic City ride sued him. 
  • Ferris had a terrible time keeping himself out of trouble and also spent two years in ligitation trying to get a larger share of the profits from the fair organizers. He died bankrupt at the age of 37. 
  • Ferris's creation spent the next 10 years as a neighborhood attraction in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood, then made an appearance in at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904. The ride was dynamited in 1906. 
  • Because of their height, Ferris Wheels are often the visual stand-in for a much larger gathering of people be it an amusement park, a neighborhood (the Wonder Wheel in Coney Island) or an entire city (The London Eye). 
  • Ferris Wheels say summer, enjoyment and romance (a Ferris Wheel car is a rotating kissing booth). They also, despite being several tons of steel, paint and machinery, feel fragile. The size but openness of the structure makes it at once grand yet unstabble and notoriously prone to malfunction and collapse. That Ferris's original wheel was dynamited and not dismantled (as it had been after its debut in Chicago) speaks to a kind of sudden end, a violent death.

    The idea that a Ferris Wheel can both signify a whole place yet also be dangerously ephemeral speaks to what we love and mourn about public amusement. Public amusments create other worlds. But those worlds are meant to vanish, to live more in memory than for real, to end suddenly and without explanation. They contain the seeds of their own ending.  

 



Aug

4

2014

2010-12-27_1293491157

Was a poster for a terrible 80s throwback movie I saw 10 minutes of in a hotel 11 months later and then turned off. I'm pretty sure my caption was pun on the Eddie Money song, which I love. The video for that song is 3 1/2 minutes long and infinitely better than the movie, which felt about a month long. 

The video then: 

Trivia: the song is a duet between Eddie Money and Ronnie Spector. They never appear on screen together.  



Jul

31

2014

If you'd like to know what my next book Brat Pack America: Places you Know and Love Thanks to 80s Teen Movies is about, here's the nut of it in five minutes where I explain all. 

 Thank you to Brady Forrest and Ignite San Francisco who invited me to do this presentation in the spring. Great prep for the 9813 times I'll be doing it next year when I go on tour.  

And I want to do more Ignite Events (say what?). This one was so much fun.